You think we're the dominating force on this planet? There're a perfectly natural bunch of terrifying things that good old Mother Nature's got up her sleeve to remind us of our place on her Earth. And here's just least one smack-down she can use to shut us the hell up and there's not a damn thing we can do about it.
In the Canary Islands off the coast of West Sahara/Morocco [North Africa] there's a volcano called Cumbre Vieja on the steepest island in the world, La Palma. Scientists predict one day an eruption will trigger a landslide that could very well devistate the coastal regions of the North Atlantic.
This is so damned interesting.
We all know what happens when you drop a pebble into a pond. You get concentric circles rippling from where the pebble broke the surface. Now imagine the pond is the Atlantic Ocean, and the pebble is 500km³ - 25km x 15km x 1.4km thick slab of rock dropping into the Atlantic Ocean at 360 km/hr. Can you imagine the ripple that might cause? spreading out from the epicentre - slamming it's 100 metre tall shock-wave hundreds of miles into Western Sahara and Morrocco. Spreading outwards hitting Portugal, Spain, Britain and France at speeds of over 500km/hr. Still moving across the Atlantic 4000 miles to the West Coast of the United States having spread wide enough to hit the entire coastline from Florida up into Canada with a 50 metre wave traveling 20 miles inland with enough force to flatten everything in it's path. The Carribean. The top of South America.
It appears there are no Ifs about mega tsuanami, only time will tell. They've happened before and they'll happen again. The land mass at La Palma is poised to move during a future eruption of Cumbre Vieja. Although the collapse may not be imminent in our terms - not due in the next week - it is thought to be soon in geological terms - in the next 1500 years. At present, the volcano is not being monitored closely enough to be able to give enough of a warning to evacuate cities that will feel the force of this natural occurance. According to the models, if it happened right now, New York'd have 9 hours before the first wave hit.
Dr Simon Day, of the Benfield Hazard Research Centre: "The collapse will occur during some future eruption after days or weeks of precursory deformation and earthquakes. An effective earthquake monitoring system could provide advanced warning of a likely collapse and allow early emergency management organisations a valuable window of time in which to plan and respond. Eruptions of Cumbre Vieja occur at intervals of decades to a century or so and there may be a number of eruptions before its collapse. Although the year to year probability of a collapse is therefore low, the resulting tsunami would be a major disaster with indirect effects around the world. Cumbre Vieja needs to monitored closely for any signs of impending volcanic activity and for the deformation that would precede collapse."
[PDF] Cumbre Vieja Volcano -- Potential collapse and tsunami at La Palma.
Volcano could flatten US cities NZ Herald
Lethal shockwave from an island in the sun The Independent
Giant Tsunami Armageddon Online
[another treasure found in the comments]
Snippet the Mediterranean snapper snuggled up to his mother as they swam away from the fishing boats through a sliver of cooler water. They slid on and it got warmer the closer they were to the island. The volcano made it so.
She wasn't really his mother. She was a swordfish. He hadn't known his mother or his father. They'd both panicked when he was born and abandoned him on a reef.
They didn’t mean to do him harm; they just thought he’d be better off in someone else’s care. But they were ashamed of what they were doing, and, as they hurriedly swam away, they weren’t paying as much attention as snappers should. They didn’t see the net until they were too far into it to get out.
Snippet’s mum was served with chips and overcooked vegetables to an ungrateful little snot of a boy called Terrance from Slough, who was on holiday on the island with his parents. He didn’t even have the decency to clear his plate. Snippet’s Dad ended up in a tin of cat food that is still sitting on a shelf in a supermarket in a run-down part of Barcelona. Snippet knew none of this.
Snippet squirted past his adopted mother’s sword and asked her the same question he’d asked her every day for most of his life.
“Can we go to Sea World?”
The answer was always the same, if not in wording, at least in sentiment.
“You LIVE in the sea, Snippet. You know the answer.”
He’d learnt to leave it at that – but he was resigned to keep asking, at least once a day. He had met a dolphin once who had filled his head with dreams of America; and specifically, with dreams of the wonders of Sea World – where all the best fish in the sea gathered to show the humans how cool they were. He longed to go, but his mother wouldn’t take him. She said it was too far away and the journey took too long.
As they swam closer to the shoreline, they heard a deep rumbling noise that quickly grew louder. Suddenly, there was an almighty explosion somewhere above the water. Instinctively, Snippet and his mother turned tail and swam away from the noise – they didn’t hurry, but they didn’t linger.
Snippet turned to look behind them. What he saw made his eyes bulge (even more than usual). A black wave of land was coming at them through the water. He spun back to warn his mother, but she’d seen it too.
“What is it, mum?”
“I’ve no idea, Snippet.”
“Maybe it’s a mega-tsunami! If it is, we could be in Florida in 6 hours! Sea World’s in Florida mum! Can we ride it? Can we?” If he’d had feet, he’d have been hopping from one to the other.
“Don’t be silly, Snippet. No one could get to Florida that quick. It’s just not poss…”
A wall of water picked them up and hurled them out into the Atlantic at 500 mph. Snippet was going to Sea World. He turned to his mother.
“Mum? If I’m a Mediterranean Snapper, what was I doing living in the Atlantic?”
“It’s called poetic licence, dear. Now tuck in behind me in case we come across anything solid.”